The House of Saud will expectedly be quite pleased with itself that Haj 2017 has concluded without any setbacks or hitches worth reporting.

In fact it will cynically pat itself on the back that in addition to a smooth incident-free event, its enormous team of bureaucrats which included intelligence and security forces, ensured that the compartmentalization of Haj as a spiritual ritual did not stray to “other” areas.

The “other” being politics. Saudi kingdom has for the last four decades – especially following Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution which toppled the Shah from power – clamped down on anyone deviating from its interpretation and practice of Haj.

Emptying the rituals devoid of any socio-political significance, underwritten by state-sponsored court ulema (scholars), has characterized the nervousness of the ruling family.

On the guard to prevent any threat to its reign, the Saudi regime has not only barred millions of pilgrims from discussing or planning campaigns intended to seek and secure justice for oppressed people; it has adopted a tougher stance against its own population.

To question the House of Saud’s peculiar view of Islam is literally courting arrest, detention and death. Hundreds if not thousands of dissidents languish in Saudi dungeons for having displayed their courageous opposition. Admittedly, the bulk of the dissidents’ disquiet centers on the abuse of power by the unelected “royalty”. It has to do with the “crime” of demanding accountability, human rights, freedom and justice.

But oblivious to legitimate concerns of the population, the Saudi monarchy continues behaving as all rogue regimes do. Its a luxury they can afford knowing that big brother America has their back. And the same can be said of Israel’s secret security arrangements which allows the royal family to conduct questionable policies.

Since social media has been abuzz with pictures and selfies by pilgrims, one wonders whether the irony of stoning devils at the culmination of Haj, dawned on the millions while the self-proclaimed “custodians” have been stoning Yemen via bombs and missiles?

The same can be said about Israel’s continued occupation of Palestine, given that the ridiculous demands made on Qatar by the monarchy in respect of support and aid for the Resistance has been shocking.

Likewise, the merciless repression of Muslim Rohingya by Myanmar, which has been on-going since the 1980s, but currently reaching genocidal levels, has apparently been swept under the carpet.

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), a conglomeration of oligarchs, set up as a security institution ostensibly to counter Iran’s footprint in the region, has acquired a hallowed status outstripping the sanctity of the noble sanctuaries in Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem.

Kingpins of the GCC are Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Kuwait. All unelected despots who regard Israel as a guarantor of their freedom to suppress human rights, thus unable to issue the slightest squeak in defense of Palestine.

Or if they do, its no more than a knee jerk reaction, knowing that Israel allows them the space to bluff themselves and their faithful sycophants around the world.

Spending billions of dollars on sophisticated military hardware but remaining unmoved in the face of the catastrophic ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya, is simply shocking. Yet these weapons of mass destruction have and are being deployed to waste Yemen.

If Haj remains an empty ritual as designed and forcefully imposed by the Saudi regime, neither the Yemeni nor the Rohingya have any hope that if their suffering persists, the multitude of pilgrims from every nook and corner of the world will be able to mobilize in defense of their rights.

Indeed for all oppressed!

 

Iqbal Jassat

Exec Member: Media Review Network

Johannesburg

 

Iqbal Jassat

Iqbal Jassat is an acclaimed writer, analyst and commentator and one of the founder members of MRN. His analysis is featured regularly in mainstream and alternate media outlets around the world.